The dressing up ritual, the gondola parade and the first “struscio” in St Mark’s Square. On Saturday, February 11, the Venice Carnival presents the 12 Marie of 2023. Selected last Friday among some sixty pretenders from all over the city, they will now take the main stage of the Venetian festivities.
First, there will be the dressing up ritual at Palazzo Vitturi in Santa Maria Formosa, during the morning: here Umberto Corrà of Monika & Umberto will prepare the hairstyle that will match the costume that the 12 girls will wear. Francesca and Sabrina, then, with their magic hands, will give the 12 Marie a light, sunny, delicate make-up as befitted young brides during the Renaissance period.
Once the dressing is over, the first photoshoot and catwalk between the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Square will take place. The appointment is at 3.30 PM in the stazio of Santa Sofia in Cannaregio, from where the 12 girls, accompanied by the patron of the competition Maria Grazia Bortolato and by the councillor delegated to the Protection of Traditions of the Municipality of Venice Giovanni Giusto, will board the gondolas provided by the Gondoliers’ Association to reach the stazio Calle Vallaresso and, on foot, St. Mark’s Square. Here they will get on the stage set up for the Most Beautiful Mask and will be presented to the Carnival public.
Here is the list of the 12 Marie of the 2023 edition of the Venice Carnival:
Giulia Polselli, 18 years old from Oriago, student
Elisa Bermani, 27 years old from Venice, teacher
Sara Barbiero, 27 years old from Spinea, nurse
Agata Scarpa, 24 years old from Chirignago, student
Caterina Minach, 20 years old from Mestre, student
Laura Libbi, 18 years old from Camponogara, student
Lavinia Malerba, 19 years old from Lido di Venezia, tourist guide
Martina Codolo, 19 years old from Sant’Erasmo, student
Beatrice Raffael, 23 years old from Venice, student
Giulia Caramel, 24 years old from Mestre, student
Giorgia Boldrin, 19 years old from Marcon, aspiring actress
Matilde Grandesso, 20 years old from Mestre, student
The 12 Marie will also be joined on some dates by the two bridesmaids Veronica Boscolo and Mariam Gargiulo.
Resurrected by the visionary director Bruno Tosi in 1999 and over time becoming one of the pivotal events of the Venice Carnival, the Festa delle Marie recalls a historical fact. It was the year 973 when in the church of San Pietro di Castello, during the annual celebrations dedicated to the purification of the Virgin Mary, twelve Venetian girls were kidnapped by a group of Dalmatian pirates. After a chase organised by Doge Pietro Candiano III, the girls were freed and taken back to Venice. Since then, the Festa delle Marie has been celebrated every year in the lagoon, in ways and rituals that have changed over the centuries.
From Saturday to Shrove Tuesday, the 12 Marie will attend the most important events of the Venice Carnival.
The Festa delle Marie is also a unique moment to admire traditional Venetian costumes. Last year, Atelier Pietro Longhi created the model that will be worn by the 12 girls during the 2023 Carnival events. Drawing inspiration from the works of the 16th-century Venetian painter Tiziano Vecellio, Francesco Briggi, Anna Zappella and Raffaele Dessì chose the sartorial lines of the mid-sixteenth century and, as fabric, an ivory and champagne-coloured damask with floral designs, produced by the historic Rubelli weaving mill.
The one between the Atelier and the Venice Carnival is a professional relationship that has been going on for a good 10 years, i.e. since 2013, when the then artistic director Davide Rampello asked Briggi to change the costumes of the 12 Marie.
In the coming days, the Marie will compete for the famous title of the most beautiful Mary of the Year by animating palaces and parties in Venice, Mestre and the islands.
The election of the Carnival Mary 2023 is scheduled for Monday, February 20 in the Sale Apollinee of Teatro La Fenice.